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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Refugee for life

Source: The Daily Star

28 years on, Nirupa Chakma still hopes for a home

Adivasis stage a sit-in in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday morning demanding immediate arrest and punishment of the persons responsible for the arsons and killings in Rangamati and withdrawal of the army from Baghaichhari. Photo: STAR

Every time Nirupa Chakma lost her home she hoped it was the last, and she always prayed that her next home would be cosy and warm.

She has spent the last 28 years vainly trying to find a safe haven.

Nirupa said, “Ever since I was born, I have had to experience life as a refugee.

Time and time again I have been made a refugee, and once again I have no home."

The latest incident that caused Nirupa to become a refugee was the clash between Bangalee settlers and indigenous people.

On February 20, Nirupa lost all her belongings, including her house and shop, in Purbapara Balughat.

Bangalee settlers stole Nirupa's television set, CD player, fan, and other items worth around Tk 1 lakh.

Bangalee settlers also took away seven of her 11 goats and three cows.

All this was committed in front of her eyes, before the looters set her house and shop on fire.

“When I saw the law enforcers I felt a little safer, thinking they would control the injustice.

"But the law enforcers were bogus -- they allowed the settlers to take away my things and destroy my home,” she added.

As a class 2 student in 1986, Nirupa endured the nightmare of losing her home in Mainee in Khagrachhari when Bangalee settlers attacked it.

The loss was to become a recurrent theme in her life.

She said, “I remember my father telling me the story of losing our home in 1979 in Longdu, Rangamati.”

Nirupa also lost a home in Gangaram Mukh, during an attack by Bangalee settlers on April 20, 2008.

Already too cornered and tired to move to some other place after losing her home so many times, she now feels that she is left with no other choice but to fight back as long as she lives.

Nirupa Chakma could not conceal her deep resentment when she said, “If I have to die, I should die here -- and if I have to survive, I should survive here.

"Anyway I have no other place to live.”